By Lucy Harbron - 22:03


Tom sits hunched on the left
side, Barbara leans on the right
reading separate books, separated
by wood and genre. If the bell is
disrupted they take turns to explain
the plot, the only information
that contains ‘I’ until they move on
to ‘you’, until Tom finishes his two
afternoon drinks too fast, Barbara
struggles over Guinness, hears four
heavy paws on the stairs. And he
is in the corner again, has been
since sixteen, complaining about elderly
darts, playing alone, pressing
the button for more, more, more
heat on plastic garden furniture that
reminds him of Cornwall and learning
to roll a smoke. He knows the name
of every face on the wall, tell you
which ones he’s met, regardless
he labels them hero, looks towards
the door too, hoping today is the
day to meet another, he will call
them chief. He says he has the gift
of the gab and he got it right here,
there the day Barbara realised
she’d been intoxicating him
three years underage, in punishment
she chased him around the bar, ruffled
his hair, told him to get it cut. She
says happy birthday. He is a child
of that street, of that concrete 
beer garden, raised there, still there
while the scaffolding 

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